- Stars like Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Donaldson could still swap uniforms if they're put on waivers during the month of August. Will any contending clubs bite?
The trade deadline may have passed, but that doesn't mean we've seen the last MLB trade of the 2018 season. Teams have another month to place players on waivers, making them available to the other 29 teams in the league. If one claims him, they can work out a deal with that team, or take him off waivers. If he makes it through, he can be moved as freely as he could have been before August 1.
Below are our top-12 candidates to get moved this month, starting with hitters.
Donaldson is on the 60-day DL with a calf injury, and still does not have a timetable to return. It remains likely he'll get back on the field this month, but it could be closer to September 1 rather than August 1. With about $7.6 million remaining on his contract for this season, he'll easily clear waivers. The question is whether there's a contender out there that wants to take a chance on a 32-year-old with chronic leg issues who hasn't played since May and was hitting .234/.333/.423 before going on the DL. It's hard to imagine any NL team making a move for him, but an AL team that could stick him at DH could be a fit. That team may not exist, though.
This remains possible, no matter GM Mike Rizzo's protestations on deadline day. Harper certainly wouldn't make it through waivers, and it's hard to imagine he'd make it through the NL side of the equation. This would be a wildly interesting waiver deal, given the short-term nature of Harper's contract and the potential cost of acquiring him. If the Nationals don't get hot over the next few weeks, it absolutely could happen.
It's mathematically possible for the Giants to make a run and get to the postseason, but it's hard to imagine them eclipsing the four teams ahead of them in the NL West, or four ahead of them for the second wild card. McCutchen should go on waivers and be made available. He might not make it through unclaimed, though. He could be an upgrade in right field for the Phillies or either corner spot for the Indians, though that would mean either Michael Brantley, or even McCutchen, playing center. He's owed about $4.9 million and is hitting .258/.353/.413 with 11 homers and 24 doubles on the season, plus is a valued veteran presence.
Jones is on the record as saying he wants to end his career in Baltimore, and he's a 10-and-5 guy, so he has full no-trade rights. Still, the Orioles will put him on waivers, and with $5.6 million still coming his way this year, it's likely he'll get through. He's having a relatively standard season, hitting .286/.314/.433, though his power seems to be sapped a bit. After hitting at least 25 homers for seven straight seasons, he has just 11 this year. The same teams that have plausible interest in McCutchen could also kick the tires on Jones.
Beltre's case is nearly identical to Jones's. He's a 10-and-5 veteran hitting for solid average and less power than usual, with an avowed desire to remain with his current team. He's owed a bit more money at just shy of $6 million, but that likely wouldn't be an impediment to any acquiring team. The Red Sox and Braves had discussions with the Rangers about Beltre, and both could still be interested, though the Red Sox would get the first shot at him on waivers.
Choo is having an excellent season, hitting .277/.389/.486 with 20 homers and 21 doubles, making his first All-Star Game at 36 years old. He'd unquestionably be one of the best bats available in August, should he be in the mix. The problem, however, is his contract. He has two years and $42 million remaining after this year, on top of another $6.6 million coming his way this year. Even if the Rangers were willing to pay for a large portion of the contract, teams may be wary about trading for a player in the latter half of his 30s with two years left on his deal.
With Aaron Judge on the DL, the Yankees reportedly had interest in Bautista going up to the deadline. He's owed virtually nothing and is a free agent after this year, so the contract isn't an issue. The Mets have been willing to play him at third base, but it's hard to imagine any NL contender doing the same. Bautista's place is as a DH, and the only team that makes any sense for him is the Yankees.
Harvey's name was in the rumors right up to the deadline, but the Reds ultimately couldn't find a suitable deal. The Cubs, Yankees, Braves, Pirates and Red Sox all made moves to address rotation holes before the deadline, while the Astros, Indians and Phillies don't need any help. That leaves the Brewers, A's and Mariners as contenders that could still be interested in Harvey. The Brewers, in particular, are in need of another arm, and were in talks with the Reds about Harvey on deadline day.
Santana will be an interesting player on waivers. On the one hand, he's owed a reasonable $4.5 million the rest of this season, and his 2019 club option does not come with a buyout. The Twins are in sell mode, especially with anyone unlikely to be a contributor to their next contending team. At the same time, Santana just made his season debut at the end of July after spending the first four months of the year on the DL, and things haven't gone well. He has allowed seven runs on 13 hits, including three homers, in 10 1/3 innings. If a team like the Brewers or A's is going to make a move for him, he'll have to show them at least a little of last year's form in the next couple weeks.
The A's nearly had a deal in place for Fiers in the final hour before the deadline, but it didn't work out. They could certainly revisit that with the Tigers, or the Brewers could swoop in and add to their desperately needy rotation. Fiers is putting together a nice season, pitching to a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with 86 strikeouts in 117 innings. At the very least, he'd lengthen Oakland's or Milwaukee's rotation, and could take some strain off bullpens that rank second and seventh, respectively, in innings pitched. Fiers is owed about $2 million the rest of this season and remains under team control through next year.
The Mets seem content to go into next year with Wheeler backing up Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the rotation, and that's totally understandable. At the same time, they need to put Wheeler on waivers to see what he might bring back in a trade. He'd be far more interesting to teams in need of a starter than Matt Harvey. Wheeler is on an arbitration deal that pays him just $1.9 million this year, and he can't become a free agent until after next season. Given the low cost of his contract, for both the remainder of this year and next year, and the fact that he's not a rental, he'd be more expensive than any other pitcher likely to move this month.
Shields has been shockingly decent for the White Sox this season, amassing a 4.56 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 144 innings. He wouldn't factor into a contender's postseason rotation, but he could be a valuable innings eater for the final two months of the regular season. All the usual suspects could be interested here, but his contract might be prohibitive. Shields is owed almost $7 million the rest of this season, and has a club option with a $2 million buyout next year. The White Sox aren't getting rid of him without picking up a good chunk of what's still owed. He's likely the least attractive pitcher of the bunch, all things considered.